Category Archives: Family

Last day and coming home

I got all packed up and made piz­za dough/pizza for din­ner while Mohamed and Eri­ca went to a back-to-school night for Abdu. I had brought Abdu home after going to the Island Rec Club my last day, and Eri­ca took Maus­ki for the sec­ond day of try­ing to get her fin­ger­print­ed. The kids and Eri­ca helped when Maus­ki and Eri­ca got home. Din­ner turned out great. Eri­ca and Mohamed ate after they got home while the kids and I were upstairs watch­ing a movie.

Lat­er, I tried to sleep, but couldn’t. The last cou­ple hours before my cab came to take me to the air­port (at 2:30 am), I spent just lying in bed and rest­ing beside Maus­ki. My flight was at 5:15 am and I arrived back at LAX at 10:45 am the same day. Wow.

For any of you who have trav­eled a lot, this pho­to jour­nal will prob­a­bly be bor­ing. But there are a few things that even you may not have seen. I flew on Saudia Air­lines, the offi­cial air­line of Sau­di Ara­bia. They had the only non­stop flight to and from Jed­dah from LAX.

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Abdu… the mas­ter of dress­ing in lay­ers

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In the back of the cab on the way to Jed­dah. The cab dri­ver was nice and asked if I would like to live in Sau­di Ara­bia. I said no, that I liked where I live. But I like to vis­it. He was quite talk­a­tive.

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This is the gate for my flight. These guys were just loung­ing there until about half an hour before our flight was sup­posed to leave. The mens’ line is on the left with the tra­di­tion­al met­al detec­tor like we have in the US. I’m in front of the women’s entrance. I had to put my car­ry-on and my purse on the x-ray con­vey­or belt, then go into the enclosed area where there were sev­er­al women wait­ing. One had a met­al detect­ing wand and asked that I put my arms out to the sides while she went over every inch of me with that thing. When it beeped, she would check to make sure it was jew­el­ry under my scarf, or what­ev­er. Same thing turned away from her. This was the sec­ond booth I had to go through like this. They had me start up my lap­top com­put­er when I got out of the booth and they checked my Nikon as well. Any secu­ri­ty check in the air­port didn’t have the ‘no liq­uids’ sym­bols and the like… they had sym­bols for ‘no hand­guns’… ‘no bombs’… that type of thing. It was pret­ty strange.

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This was the glass enclosed area we were to wait in until they were ready to trans­port us to the plane. At that point, we were all herd­ed down the esca­la­tor and ONE guy was there to check to make sure we all had a cer­tain stamp in our pass­ports that we were to have received at an ear­li­er stop in the air­port cus­toms area. We then got on to a tram and were dri­ven out to our plane.

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Out the win­dow of the plane before take­off

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Awhile after they served break­fast, they brought around these hot ‘cheese sand­wich­es’ and wee muffins. Of course there was no alco­hol served on the plane.

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Some of the rotat­ing views on my mon­i­tor

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Some of the cen­sor­ing shown here in a movie I watched. Any time there was cleav­age or short skirts/shorts, that area on a woman would be pix­e­lat­ed. Pro­fan­i­ty was also cen­sored.

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The cab­in inte­ri­or. The flight was maybe one quar­ter capac­i­ty.

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Yes, it was a VERY long flight… over 16 1/2 hours long via the polar route, but thank­ful­ly a non-stop. No point in mak­ing it even longer!

Get­ting clos­er…

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For din­ner, I had the mas­soud… a type of fish served with spicy bas­mati rice. There was also a ‘seafood sal­ad’ that looked like I might get food poi­son­ing (the mayo looked old), but I did fine. I didn’t eat the let­tuce in the sal­ad. It was awful. Or the toma­to. That is some kind of white bun, a date and wal­nut cake for dessert, and tea.

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It looked bet­ter on the menu, but then gen­er­al­ly air­line food is uni­ver­sal­ly bad. I couldn’t wait to get home to fresh pro­duce!

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Snow on the Rock­ies… feels good to be in the US again.

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A suc­cess­ful land­ing at LAX. Cus­toms was a breeze (elec­tron­ic dec­la­ra­tion machines) and a ‘wel­come home’ from the cus­toms offi­cer. Hap­py to be home. And although it was hot when I land­ed, it has since cooled down. Glad I didn’t miss all the cool weath­er!

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Frustrating day that ended well

There’s a new law in Sau­di Ara­bia that all non-Sau­di cit­i­zens need to be fin­ger­print­ed, down to age 7. So Eri­ca arranged to take Maus­ki out of school ear­ly to take her down to get fin­ger­print­ed. What a fias­co. They stopped tak­ing peo­ple an hour before they were due to close, which was before we could get there. We con­tin­ued our trek, but they had closed the que. The next day was basi­cal­ly the same sit­u­a­tion, so Eri­ca com­plained and the third time was appar­ent­ly the charm, prob­a­bly because she had spo­ken up. Good thing, because after that, they were telling peo­ple they had to go get it done in Jed­dah and stand in lines start­ing at 5 am!

Wait­ing in the shade for the bus to come

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The bus we want­ed to take appar­ent­ly skipped our stop and we had to wait for the next one, about a half an hour in the heat, while oth­ers came and went by car.

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The fin­ger­print­ing truck

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In the mean­time, we stopped in at a bank across from the mosque.

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Dis­cov­ery Square

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Wait­ing for the bus

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Lat­er that evening, Eri­ca and Mohamed final­ly went on a date while I watched the kids. They helped me make din­ner, and we watched The Three Mous­ke­teers.

 

Back to da island

Anoth­er beau­ti­ful (and hot) day, so we decide to go back to the island. Well, actu­al­ly, every day was pret­ty much the same. It’s pret­ty hot here, even in the win­ter. Add a good dose of humid­i­ty, and you have a need to dip your­self in cool water… espe­cial­ly after a work­out. Abdu was cough­ing again, so we had him with us.

Bus ‘Lay-by’ (bus stop) out­side one of the schools

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Abdu and Maus­ki were in the habit of gath­er­ing fall­en plume­ria or oth­er flow­ers to present to the bus dri­vers when they got on the bus. Pret­ty cute. He’s got his Super­man tow­el on.

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Rid­ing the Orange Bus on to the island

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One of many beach access areas

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Island homes

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Island Recre­ation Club

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The Wom­ens’ work­out room

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Over­look­ing Pure Cafe Restau­rant and Lounge out by the pool. I main­ly used that ellip­ti­cal right in front of the win­dow.

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Shot from the pool deck over­look­ing The Red Sea

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I wait­ed for this class to end to get into the pool and cool off after my work­out.

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It was pret­ty desert­ed mid-day dur­ing the week.

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No swim­ming” sign

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Very peace­ful here… the only sounds were the lap­ping of lit­tle waves on the rocky shore, the wind whistling through the joints of the umbrel­la, the rustling of palm leaves, and the occa­sion­al bird call.

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What a set­ting…

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Going on to the uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus

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The bus sys­tem is the main method of get­ting around the KAUST com­mu­ni­ty. Bicy­cles are plen­ti­ful as well. But some fam­i­lies do have cars. Dri­ving can be a lia­bil­i­ty, though… while it is legal for women to dri­ve in KAUST, there is appar­ent­ly no train­ing. As a result, many Sau­di women get into acci­dents because they don’t real­ly know how to dri­ve. And insur­ance? Maybe not. We were in a bus one day when a Sau­di woman pulled out right in front of us. She didn’t even look first. Our bus dri­ver braked and swerved to avoid a col­li­sion. I was dumb­found­ed.

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A secu­ri­ty guard at the gate. Most times, you have to show your ID before they let you through upon enter­ing. But we could just hold our ID up for them. They wouldn’t come on to the bus (except at the main out­er gate when we were re-enter­ing after being in Jed­dah).

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Wait­ing in front of the med­ical cen­ter for the Pur­ple Bus. That’s the one super­mar­ket across the street… Tami­mi Mar­ket. There’s a small Tami­mi right by the uni­ver­si­ty as well.

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The Red Sea Mall

So we had gone to the Mall of Ara­bia already, but Eri­ca thought I would enjoy the Red Sea Mall, so one evening she and I took the bus to Jed­dah and stayed until 10pm or so. Here are a few of the pho­tos I took. It’s well laid out and quite nice on the inside. The out­side wasn’t as impres­sive as the Mall of Ara­bia, but appar­ent­ly most aren’t. In case you hadn’t guessed, the Saud­is love their malls.

Head­ing out of KAUST

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The check­point going out of KAUST

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The road to Jed­dah

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Check­point along the free­way… KAUST bus­es just blow through no prob­lem

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The streets approach­ing the mall

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The Red Sea Mall

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One of many entrances

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Going up to the ‘Bazaar’

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Many of the large ads at the mall have the faces pix­e­lat­ed

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A sign show­ing that there are dif­fer­ent seat­ing areas

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I was care­ful about tak­ing pho­tos of peo­ple, as it is frowned on in Sau­di Ara­bia, but there are a few ran­dom sight­ings in my pho­tos.

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I wait­ed at a table in the fam­i­ly sec­tion while Eri­ca ordered food from Al Baik, the mid­dle east­ern equiv­a­lent of fast food (but THEY have gar­lic sauce!). If you look close­ly, you can see a divider sep­a­rat­ing the women’s line from the men’s line for order­ing and pick­ing up food. The women’s lines are gen­er­al­ly much short­er.

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Chick­en, fries and a bun

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Wait­ing for the bus to take us back to KAUST

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The Roshan Mall… maybe next time

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A day at The Red Sea

I want­ed to go to the swim­ming beach here, so Eri­ca and I took the Beach Bus and spent part of the day there. When we arrived, we intend­ed to rent kayaks and walked toward that area but saw a Sau­di fam­i­ly walk­ing out on the dock toward a boat and fol­lowed them. We end­ed up tak­ing the boat to the har­bor and back, about an hour total. It was beau­ti­ful and some­thing KAUST pro­vides to their res­i­dents. After that, we tried to rent kayaks, but the day was too windy and they weren’t rent­ing them out. So we just swam instead. Here are some pho­tos of the day.

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This is what the sea­weed looks like here.

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The area that had kayaks, boats, wind­surf­ing, etc.

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Going out to the boat

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Leav­ing the beach

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Some­one pulled up at a lit­tle island

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Eri­ca with our crew behind her

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The coral reef

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Head­ed toward the har­bor

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The KAUST Bea­con

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KAUST Yacht Club

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Anoth­er shot of The Bea­con

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More boats in the har­bor. You can make reser­va­tions to go snor­kel­ing or deep sea div­ing.

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Our cap­tain

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Boats pass­ing by on our way back to the beach

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Cen­ter for dive train­ing

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Con­struc­tion

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Going by the check point that goes out of KAUST

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Stopover at Tami­mi Mar­ket

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Mall of Arabia

So lat­er that day, we all piled on to a bus going to the Mall of Ara­bia in Jed­dah. It takes about an hour to get there from KAUST. One of the perks is that we didn’t have to stop at the check points to have our ID’s checked, as we all had giv­en our names and ID’s upon enter­ing the bus. KAUST does have quite a few ben­e­fits. So we left at 5:30 pm and got there an hour lat­er, then had to be back to catch the bus at 11 to arrive back at KAUST a lit­tle after mid­night. The var­i­ous neigh­bor­hood bus­es were all wait­ing when we returned, so we got on the Pur­ple Bus to come home and he drove us straight to our house. The bus dri­vers know where peo­ple live, since it’s such a small com­mu­ni­ty and most peo­ple take the bus to get around.

Again, these are all just with my iPhone with no flash. And many were on the bus, which blurred them a bit. These pho­tos show a lot more peo­ple than oth­ers in pub­lic places that I’ve post­ed. They were enough at a dis­tance that I didn’t think it would be a prob­lem. Most­ly the women are in black and the men are in white or West­ern attire.

Leav­ing KAUST

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The sun set on our way to Jed­dah.

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As you can see, it’s most­ly desert with a few small towns. I’ve noticed that when peo­ple pull off to the side of the road, they pull WAY out (much more than we would in our des­ig­nat­ed shoul­ders).

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Com­ing into Jed­dah… it’s a huge city.

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Get­ting off the bus.

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The Mall of Ara­bia. Pret­ty, isn’t it?

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Here I am with Maus­ki. I wore black and cov­ered my hair.

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A line of taxis wait­ing out in front.

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Just inside the entrance.

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We got there around the time of next to the last prayer of the day, so short­ly after that, the stores opened again after being closed for half an hour or so. We made our way to the bath­rooms upstairs. The prayer rooms are inside and off to the side of the bath­rooms.

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We were in Cen­tre­point for a few min­utes before they start­ed announc­ing clo­sure for the last prayer. After­ward, they turned out the lights and closed the front gates.

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We ordered our din­ner from this place serv­ing Yemeni food. It was Muta­baqi­ah Yemeniyah and very tasty. One cheese and the oth­er spinach? Any­way, it was real­ly good.

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This is Pan­da, the gro­cery store inside the mall, where we met Mohamed after he’d done a lit­tle shop­ping.

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A cou­ple shots of the bath­room. I dis­cov­ered AFTER I used this that there were also some reg­u­lar toi­lets avail­able.

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On the bus going home.

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One of the check points we didn’t need to stop for.

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There were an amaz­ing num­ber of trucks pulled off to the side of the road on our way home, pre­sum­ably with the dri­vers sleep­ing.

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One of the two check­points com­ing back into Kaust. They did check our ID’s at this point.

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Girl Scouts

Eri­ca was sick, so I took Maus­ki to Girl Scouts on Fri­day, the first day of their week­end here. We took the Pur­ple Bus to Tami­mi Mar­ket, then took the Orange Bus to the Island where her troop meets. The girls had been split into three groups the week before and Maus­ki had done paint­ing already. This week was first aid. They learned how to do the Heim­lich Manuev­er and prac­ticed… one girl was chok­ing, anoth­er was her friend, and a third was the teacher. They learned the uni­ver­sal sign for chok­ing. Then they put togeth­er their very own first aid kits, with a lit­tle clown­ing around thrown in.

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Putting their first aid kits togeth­er

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Look­ing toward the gar­den inside the club

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Paint­ings done by anoth­er group

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Clos­ing song

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Views of KAUST on our way home

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KAUST Harbor Sports Club

Got a work­out in today and Eri­ca took the kids bowl­ing here at KAUST Har­bor Sports Club. It’s a beau­ti­ful club right by the Island. We picked up some things on the way and took the scenic route.

Some beau­ti­ful plume­ria trees where the kids and I col­lect­ed some fall­en flow­ers that were still in good shape.

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The canal com­ing in from The Red Sea…

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The first homes on the island

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KAUST Har­bor Sports Club

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The track

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Ten­nis courts

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Near the entrance

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The Wom­ens’ Pool… I was the only one in the pool the whole time!

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Wait­ing for the Orange Bus

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Going home

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Girls’ night out

In the midst of (almost) every­one being sick, Eri­ca, Maus­ki and I man­aged to have a girls’ night out. We went to the the­ater to see Annie, then had some Lebanese food after­ward. It was a two-hour movie, and Maus­ki got a lit­tle antsy, but did fine. Fun evening!

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It’s hard to see, but this is Maus­ki danc­ing on stage dur­ing the cred­its. This girl def­i­nite­ly has the enter­tain­ment gene!

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Wait­ing for our food…

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Yum! This was deli­cious!

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Dis­cov­ery Square

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